After a day of food and fun with our granddaughter, the undisputed center of the household at the moment (when she is in town), we settled down to watch Avatar. (Yes, I had seen it at the theater).
There are a lot of ways to look at this film. Here is one: it is the battle between Motivation 2.0 and Motivation 3.0 (Daniel Pink’s terms). The context: the corporate profit seekers need the Navi to move away from their beautiful home, in order to turn a greater profit.
Here’s the relevant dialogue (from the script, found here):
So — who talks them into moving?
What if they won’t go?
I’m betting they will.
Killing the indigenous looks bad, but there’s one thing shareholders hate more
than bad press — and that’s a bad quarterly statement. Find me a carrot to
get them to move, or it’s going to have to be all stick. (emphasis added).
Jake is shaken by the enormity of this new responsibility.
You got three months. That’s when the dozers get there.
I’m on it.
Selfridge, the “company man,” is the one who uses the imagery of carrots and sticks. Here is his character bio from imdb:
Parker Selfridge is the “company man” on Pandora, the Chief Administrator for RDA. He’s in charge of all the mining operations on the planet and determined not the let the ‘natives’ stand in his way. He’d like to use diplomacy- largely because it looks better from a PR standpoint- but is prepared to use force if necessary.
Well, if you have seen Avatar, you know that carrots and sticks did not win the day. The Navi are fully devoted Motivation 3.0 followers, finding their motivation from within, true intrinsic motivation – motivation that leads them to the greatest of sacrifice.
So, yes, as I watched the movie I thought of the motivation insight from Daniel Pink’s DRiVE: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Here is his own twitter summary of his book (in Pink’s own words, from the end of the book):
“Carrots & sticks are so last century. Drive says for 21st century work, we need to upgrade to autonomy, mastery, & purpose.”
I think it is interesting that in the midst of the story of Avatar, James Cameron reveals just how outmoded carrots and sticks are in an evolved community.
My blogging colleague, Bob Morris, has written about the difference between creativity and innovation. And there are many books, some quite wonderful, about creativity and innovation. But here is what hit me directly between the eyes about it this weekend.
It is a quote in Drive by Daniel Pink. Pink argues that extrinsic motivation (Pink: Motivation 2.0) – you know, rewards and punishments, the kind of motivation that was made famous and served workers well in the early part of the 20th century, does not help in jobs that require creativity and innovation. In fact, they can be counterproductive, practically de-motivating.
And in the midst of his discussion of the new approach to motivation needed in the workplace of today, is this quote:
“The ultimate freedom for creative groups is the freedom to experiment with new ideas. Some skeptics insist that innovation is expensive. In the long run, innovation is cheap. Mediocrity is expensive – and autonomy can be the antidote.” (Tom Kelley, General Manager IDEO).
Kelley is an innovation guru, and his firm, IDEO, is an innovation factory. They are hired to come up with designs for products. So, everything has to be new.
But think about what he wrote. Innovation is cheap, because breakthrough innovations provide the next product/system/approach that leads to market share and maybe market dominance. In other words, if you want to discover what is really expensive, then fail to innovate. If you don’t innovate; if you don’t stay ahead of the next iteration and/or breakthrough, then your success of today will disappear in a heartbeat.
It is mediocrity – the failure to innovate when you could have, and you should have – that is so very expensive.
So, whatever else leaders need to provide, this is one thing they’d best not fail it – providing an environment that truly nurtures innovation.
That’s really what Pink’s book, Drive, is all about.